Wednesday, April 05, 2006

So excited they can't even punctuate.

Almost as much as I dislike the imposition of more state-sponsored authoritarian bureaucracy, I dislike the naif enthusiasm of those who are charged with operating it. Oh, it's good for their careers no doubt, whatever happens, but it's the pretense that they are engaged in anything more than the importation of generally malign layers of authority from largely failed socialist models that irritates me.

Or perhaps it's not pretense, and they're actually blissfully ignorant of the antecedents to what they are participating in. Either way deeply irritating.

You may be surprised (or not- and you may have already found out about it) to hear about one of Britain's newest ground breaking anti-crime initiatives: the secret police. Now we wait for the BBC drama where the cockney villain cries "Scram! 'SOCCER' (SOCA) are on the way".

Of course UK Leftists and any fellow drivellers on the Right like to bring up the FBI in all of this, as though this was just our version. However Britain, being smaller than California, scarcely can be said to need one.

SOCA are the plods that have this exciting new opportunity to imprint a new chapter in British policing. They have lots of new and exciting 'methods' to try out. The one I found most prominent on their website was snitching, or grassing, or informing- words that could be used to describe it, depending on context.

But actually they call it a Sar, and the plural they call Sar's- repeatedly (this is a clear act of language abuse and should be reportable to someone with the authority to discipline, maybe fine the abuser on the spot (joke). Here are some more examples). This pathetic lack of attention to detail, this carelessness, is precisely what I would expect of a flash new Government agency- well, responsible to the Home Office. The Sars homepage could get it right, but not the plod- or plod appointee- writing the website info. No organisation which pays that little attention to detail should be allowed within a mile of legal matters.

Anyway, one can argue about the need for some group to deal with money laundering and the like (looking at the info it seems that had been accounted for previously), but the problem with creating a brand new force working outside the system is the problem we always have with our law enforcers once they are freed from specific duties and made an 'operational force'. They go for the soft targets, the cheap and the easy targets within their new domain. They will probably eventually be used to track down those operating without ID cards, and the like. They will ostensibly be there to enforce immigration and monitor international transactions, but in the end they will find it much easier to target petty non-rule-obeyers, and that will probably mean Joe Bloggs who feels he ought to be able to travel without his ID card.

Via Samizdata

It reminds me of a feeling I've had in the Czech Republic for a while: I watch policemen travelling aimlessly round in vehicles, not sure what to do, what their role is. I think it must be one of the key challenges of policing, to define what you're for. For the most part this aimlessness in a former police state is benign, faintly positive. I notice that the new SOCA team will not pledge any oath; they'll just join up. But for what, to what end?

If you tie it in with this story it becomes scarier still: the news that the discretion of calling a crime a crime, or not, is being handed out more widely than ever to the police. It's scary when getting a caution means having a criminal record, and the police get to decide what's cautionable and what's not, working within a framework where burglary, shop lifting, arson, and underage sex, among others, may be viewed as cautionable and thus comparable to a parking offence.

The chaos and confusion in deciding what is a crime seems to be rampant today- I expect many more stories like this one... although actually in a sense I don't. The time for picking up anomalies may be passing. The Govt. want to increase rather than decrease them; they basically want to bring the police a greater degree of authority; not by ensuring a rational system which all respect, but by making randomness a weapon. Thus real criminals will accommodate to the irrationality of the individual officers and groups of officers (in other words, outwit them one way or antoher), and the law-abiding will fear the irrational police/state. Crime figures become manipulable, and order in any case can be simulated.

It's really happening. How stupid.

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